Categories
primal recipes

Pudding!

Anyone who’s ever read even one post on this blog knows I have a sweet tooth. No matter how long I avoid all traces of sugar (I’m looking at you, Whole30), I always welcome it back with open arms at the earliest opportunity.

I’ve been binging pretty heavily (for the new, marginally improved me, that is) in the week since we finished Whole30, but today, I had no sugar. None at all. No chocolate. No strawberry Fluff (God help me). Not even any stevia in my coffee (the only positive thing to come out of Whole30, as far as I’m concerned).

And tonight, after a dinner of shrimp sautéed in coconut oil on a bed of salad greens, I wanted dessert. But I also wanted to be good.

So I made pudding!

Avocados are one of those primal/paleo mainstays; Tim eats several per week, and it seems as if every other paleo recipe includes them. I don’t like avocados. I’ve tried; really I have. But I really wanted pudding.

The recipe I modified promised that this pudding wouldn’t taste like avocados. I was dubious, but did I mention I really wanted pudding?

So I made it, tweaking it a little along the way. And it was marvelous: dark and rich and smooth — and not a hint of avocado.

Chocolate Pudding
1 ripe avocado
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup full-fat coconut milk (although you could probably get away with light)
¼ cup agave (I think I’ll try coconut nectar next time)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
dash of salt

In a blender (or probably a food processor; I’m going to try that next time), blend the avocado, cocoa, and coconut milk till smooth. Add the agave, vanilla, and salt and continue mixing until it’s pudding.

I’m already thinking of ways to play with this. You could put whipped cream (or berries, if you like that sort of thing) on top. You could use mint extract or almond extract in addition to the vanilla. You could freeze it and make pudding pops!

The world is your oyster. And almost no guilt!

(Sorry about the photo. I was too lazy to do it right.)

Categories
baking primal recipes

I Can Still Bake!

Yes, it’s been months. Nine long months during which I didn’t post a thing on this blog, despite the fact that I have indeed been baking.

Sheer laziness.

I’ve been eating paleo/primal since the beginning of the year; the main difference from my old life is that there are no grains and no processed sugar. (In theory, mind you. Only in theory. I have had both grains and sugar at various times in 2011; I just try not to bake with them at home.)

I’ve made a variety of primal cookies this year, but I just haven’t bothered to write down what I did.

That changes now.

After his Thanksgiving baking frenzy, Alex left me six egg whites in the refrigerator. That very day I found a recipe in a paleo cookbook for coconut macaroons, and it called for — wait for it — six egg whites.

Who am I to argue with fate?

Of course, I tweaked the recipe a bit. And the result is quite satisfying on a cold Saturday evening.

Even if you haven’t given up everything that makes life worth living, give them a try.

Primal Coconut Macaroons (makes about 30 cookies)

  • 6 egg whites
  • ¼ to ½ cup agave or maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk the egg whites till they form soft peaks. Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in the syrup and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the coconut and coconut nibs.

Form into one-inch balls (a cookie scoop helps immensely with this) and bake for about 15 minutes, till slightly browned.

Cool on the parchment paper on a wire rack.

They’re delicious while still warm.

(I apologize for the quality of the photograph. Technology issues. I’ll do better next time.)

 

Categories
food recipes

Crab Cakes, Marvelous Crab Cakes

So, a couple of months ago I bought a can of crabmeat at Trader Joe’s. I thought, “Hey, I’ll make crab cakes this week.”

Then I put the can in the meat drawer of my refrigerator and forgot it existed.

Thank heaven for modern methods of food processing.

So, I found the can, and I thought, “Hey, I’ll make crab cakes this week.” But this time I really did.

I love crab cakes. When I eat out, if there are crab cakes on the menu, I order them. So I’ve had great crab cakes and not-so-great crab cakes. Sometimes they’re too spicy for me. (Yes, I hear you, Alex.) Sometimes they’re mushy and unappetizing. Sometimes they contain so little crab that they could be fish cakes.

So when I decided to make them at home, I knew I had to find a good recipe. Through the magic of the Internet, I found these, from a lovely blog called the Wednesday Chef that is new to me, but I’ve added it to my Google Reader. Great writing.

Anyway, the intro to the recipe talks about how these crab cakes don’t almost no filler and are great for people who don’t like mayonnaise. Perfect.

So I cracked open the two-month-old can of crab, which was in perfect condition, and added some onion and panko and Old Bay and mayo and an egg, then shaped the cakes and refrigerated them for a couple of hours.

And then I fried them, in butter and oil. And they were magnificent. I really think these are the best crab cakes I’ve ever had. I must make more, very soon. (The recipe makes eight, which was perfect for the three of us. When Alex is home, we’ll all have to survive with only two each. Tragedy.)

And the same recipe would work with canned salmon, and probably even tuna. Versatile!

So seriously, if you like crab cakes, try these. You won’t be sorry.

Categories
boys grilling recipes

Bacon Cheese Pork Roulades

We went away a couple of weeks ago (yay Tim!), and right before we left Ben and I were at the library. (Stay with me; there’s a point.) Ben grabbed a book called Planet Barbecue!: 309 Recipes, 60 Countries by Steven Raichlen.

I said, “Ben, we’re never going to use that.” And he said, “I will.” (Dialog re-created by an extremely unreliable memory.)

Fast-forward almost two weeks. Ben spends most of a Sunday afternoon paging through the book, waxing rhapsodic over recipe after recipe. (Including South African Springbok or Pork Kebabs with Monkey Gland Sauce, but we won’t go there.)

And then he hits on Bacon Cheese Pork Roulade, on page 255 of this more-than-600-page tome. That was the one.

By Tuesday evening we had acquired the necessary foodstuffs, and the boy could begin to work his magic.

Categories
boys recipes

Pancakes! (And a Special Guest Blogger!)

Ben did something cool this morning, and I made him write about it. I’m such a mean mom.

Herewith, my second-born:

I’m writing this post because this morning, I made pancakes. But not just any pancakes — special pancakes. They feel like popovers, but they aren’t.

I made one with toasted coconut, the flavor of which was overpowered by the pancake flavor. The next one that I made didn’t work, because it had freeze-dried strawberries in it. It didn’t work because the strawberries absorbed the moisture from the pancake batter, and it didn’t brown.

The sad strawberry pancake

I then chopped up a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and put that in one of them. It was gone shortly after it finished cooking.

The very happy Reese's pancake

Then, I made some with cinnamon chips and chocolate chips in them. I still have two of these, simply because I had already eaten half a batch of pancakes, and figured I shouldn’t have any more.

The equally happy cinnamon-chocolate chip pancake

The strawberry one and some of the second Reese’s I made are going to have strawberry butter put on them fairly soon. Oh, right, and I’m also making the strawberry butter.

Basic Pancakes (from How to Cook Everything®, Simple Recipes for Great Food, by Mark Bittman)

Makes 4 to 6 servings [fewer if you’re a 13-year-old boy]

Time: 20 minutes

Americans must have been sadly alienated from the kitchen for pancake mixes to ever have gained a foothold in the market, for these are ridiculously easy to make.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1½ to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter [optional, but I used it]
  • unmelted butter for the griddle, if you don’t have nonstick

1. Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat while you make the batter.

2. Mix together the dry ingredients. Beat the egg(s) into 1½ cups of the milk, then stir in the 2 tablespoons melted cooled butter (if you are using it). Gently stir this into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten the flour; don’t worry about a few lumps. If the batter seems thick, add a little more milk.

3. If your skillet or griddle is nonstick, you can cook the pancakes without any butter. Otherwise, use a teaspoon or two of butter or oil each time you add batter. When the butter foam subsides, or the oil shimmers, ladle batter onto the griddle or skillet, making any size pancakes you want. Adjust the heat as necessary; usually, the first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. The idea is to brown the bottom in 2 to 4 minutes, without burning it. Flip when the pancakes are cooked on the bottom; they won’t hold together well until they’re ready.

4. Cook until the second side is lightly browned and serve, or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200ºF oven for up to 15 minutes.

And remember, you can do anything with this recipe, but I do recommend Reese’s.

Categories
candy recipes

It’s Passover. And That Means …

I have an excuse to make this incredible stuff:

Now, let’s be clear. I don’t like matzoh. I’ve never liked matzoh, even way back in the days when I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on it in the lunchroom of my elementary school (well, maybe especially then). And this year, thanks to our near-abandonment of carbs around here, I didn’t have to eat any (except for a piece I coated in milk chocolate for our chocolate seder; post to come!).

But when you cover matzoh with caramel and chocolate, oddly, it’s not bad at all.

It is, in fact, scrumptious.

The original of this recipe comes from Marcy Goldman, from her book A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. She calls it My Trademark, Most Requested, Absolutely Magnificent Caramel Matzoh Crunch.

And her version is delicious.

But then David Lebovitz stepped in, and as with everything he touches, it got better.

Try it. It’s that good.

I topped some of mine this time with toasted coconut. Experiment!

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch (by David Lebovitz, adapted from a recipe by March Goldman)

4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds (optional)

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
  3. In a 3- to 4-quart heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
  4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
  5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
  6. If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.
  7. Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.

Note: If making for Passover, omit the vanilla extract or find a kosher brand.

Categories
baking Daring Bakers recipes

Daring Bakers: Copycat Cookies, Sort Of

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

We were unexpectedly invited to a July 4th barbecue at the house of some friends, and I thought, “Hey, what a great opportunity to make this month’s Daring Bakers recipes! I’ll be able to write the post early!! I won’t have to stay up late the night before typing my little heart out!!!”

Well, it was a good opportunity to make the recipes. And as you can see, I didn’t stay up late the night before the reveal date. Oops.

Anyway, I made the cookies.

The Mallomars (um, Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies) were extremely yummy, although the chocolate never did set up until I refrigerated them, and I had to keep them in the refrigerator or they softened up again. I used the vegetable oil option; it seems to me, in retrospect, that cocoa butter, which is solid at room temperature, would have been the way to go. Or maybe shortening.

But if you didn’t mind getting your fingers a bit messy — and I didn’t — they were great. I didn’t roll the cookie dough quite thin enough, because I hate rolling cookie dough, and I’m not very good at it. I used Dorie Greenspan’s trick of rolling the dough inside a plastic bag, which helps immensely, but I put too much dough inside the bag, leading to slightly too-thick cookies. But still yummy.

mallomars 1

And the marshmallows sure do harden fast, don’t they? My first 20 or so were beautiful little piped Hershey’s Kiss-like things, lovely to behold.

mallomars 2

By the last 20 or so, I was desperately trying to spread the mess with a knife.

mallomars 3

I thought the chocolate would hide the mess, or at least camouflage it. I don’t know why I thought that.

mallomars 5

But at least some of them came out pretty, and they were all delicious (as I believe I’ve mentioned).

mallomars 4

Needless to say, I liked the milk chocolate versions better. My family disagreed (more milk chocolate for me!):

Husband: Delicious little moon pie bites.
#1 Son: Honestly, I was not that impressed. None of the components was particularly flavorful, and I found the cookie very dry. [To clarify, he was eating them the next day, after they spent the night in the refrigerator.]
#2 Son: They could have used a thicker coating of chocolate, maybe double-dipped, and the shortbread could have had more flavor. The marshmallow was good, though. I would eat them again.

And then there were the Milanos (um, Milan Cookies). The recipe called for flavoring the chocolate with orange, but no. I always liked the Mint Milanos best, so that was my goal.

I added a quarter-teaspoon of peppermint extract to the chocolate, which was dark. Milk chocolate didn’t seem right with mint, but I should have trusted my preferences.

My first batch of cookies were tiny — they barely spread at all. I used much more batter in subsequent batches and got a better cookie; the recipe was very unclear on this point. You have to make the cookie about 75 percent the size you want it to wind up, and thick.

milanos 1

They never got crisp, though. I don’t know if it was too humid here — summer in New Jersey? humid? — or if it was the recipe, but they were always kind of spongy, even after I let them sit out for a couple of hours. The chocolate filling was excellent, though, except I would (of course!) have liked it better had I gone with the milk chocolate. They were pretty, though.

milanos 2

Overall, I preferred the marshmallow cookies, but the family liked the milanos:

Husband: I would have liked a somewhat thicker cookie, but they were pleasant enough after they were refrigerated.
#1 Son: Really good. I had them after they were in the fridge for a while. They had gotten to a really good level of chewiness. The filling could have been a little mintier, but it worked well overall. Orange would have been better. [Smartass.]
#2 Son: I think there could have been a little more mint in the chocolate, and the cookies could have been snappier, by which I mean actually snappy instead of all bendy. Other than that, thumbs up.

milanos 3

Try them yourselves — experimentation is fun! I think I’d like to try the marshmallow cookies with flavored marshmallows next time.

Mallows (Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies
Not my photo, and certainly not my cookies.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

• 3 cups (375 grams/13.23 oz.) all purpose flour
• ½ cup (112.5 grams/3.97 oz.) white sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon baking powder
• ⅜ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170 grams/6 oz.) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment, and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to ⅛-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1-to-1½-inch cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly; it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup light corn syrup
• ¾ cup (168.76 grams/5.95 oz.) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites, room temperature
• ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until soft-ball stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

_________________________________________

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Milan Cookies
Ditto.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

• 12 tablespoons (170 grams/6 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
• 2½ cups (312.5 grams/11.02 oz.) powdered sugar
• ⅞ cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1½ cups (187.5 grams/6.61 oz) all-purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested [or peppermint extract to taste, or whatever you’d like to try!]

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (¼-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart, as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Categories
baking Daring Bakers recipes

Daring Bakers: Bakewell Tart!

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

Bakewell tart is apparently a term applied to various confections, but in this case it was a shortbread crust topped with jam topped with almond pastry cream-like stuff, then baked. Yum.

bakewell-tart-2

I did this one all by myself. I feel so grown-up. In the midst of trying to complete four different jobs at the same time and going insane, I stopped to bake. I’m glad I did.

(For those of you who don’t know, I often contract out the actual baking to my older son, who is 17. He has considerably more free time than I do.)

I wanted to make cherry jam for this, because cherries + almonds = awesome. But I forgot to go to the farmers market after delivering above-mentioned son an hour from home at 6:30 in the morning. So, plan B: a pound of frozen cherries, about an ounce and a half of sugar, and a splash of vanilla. I threw the undefrosted cherries and the sugar in a pot and cooked them for a very long time, mashing occasionally with a potato masher, and near the end using an immersion blender on the poor cherries. One it was jelly-like, I turned off the heat and added the vanilla. Excellent, if I say so myself.

The crust was easy enough, although I must confess to using the food processor. Sorry. I think I didn’t add quite enough water, but it rolled out fine. It was just a bit dry after it was baked.

The frangipane was absolutely delicious raw — I could have eaten it all that way. It was light and airy and sweet and almondy. Really, I’d have been happy with this, the whole bowl, all to myself. But no, I soldiered on.

It baked for exactly the length of time the recipe says, which is rare around here. My oven is old and not terribly reliable. I couldn’t find the sliced almonds I know for a fact I have, so I used slivered.

bakewell-tart-1

The tart smelled absolutely stunning while it was baking, and it tasted good too:

Husband: I was a little dismayed by how soft the top was, but once assured it was supposed to be that soft, I actually found it to be enjoyable, and I thought the balance of flavors between the almond and the cherry was great. I really liked the crust too, more than I normally like pie crust.

#1 Son: I would have preferred more fruit flavor. The almond was a little heavy, but I liked the taste.

#2 Son: I liked it. I liked the cherry jam especially. There could have been a bit less frangipane and a bit more jam. The crust was awesome — perfect for a pie crust. I’d definitely eat it again. [Note to new readers: He’ll eat everything again. This is not a picky eater.]

bakewell-tart-3

Hundreds of other Daring Bakers tried this recipe too, so go see what they did with it. And if you want to try it yourself, please do. It’s a perfect summer dessert.

bakewell-tart-4

Bakewell Tart … er … Pudding
Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart:
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:

  • If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes and linked to them in the related alt.db thread.
  • You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
  • The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.

Annemarie’s notes:

  • The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disk, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:

  • I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
  • If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Annemarie’s notes:

  • Add another five minutes or more if you’re grinding your own almonds or if you’re mixing by hand. (Heaven help you.)
Categories
baking boys Daring Bakers meat recipes

Daring Bakers: Strudel, With Not an Apple in Sight

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I wasn’t going to do apple, was I?

I thought it was about time #2 Son got to take part in one of these posts, so I let him make the filling. He decided on a mix of ground lamb, mashed potatoes, and onions, which was odd because he has always been a bit uncomfortable about lamb in the past. We went to the farmers market together to get the ingredients, but he did the rest alone. He made the mashed potatoes. He browned the lamb. He chopped and sautéed the onions. It’s so nice having kids who can cook.

I made the dough, and it was much easier than I anticipated. I hate rolling out dough (as I may have mentioned once or a hundred times before), and #1 Son is away for the weekend, so I couldn’t even push it off on him. And this dough has to be stretched tissue-thin, to about 2 feet by 3 feet. Feet! Directly on a tablecloth!

strudel1

strudel2

The dough was just a simple bread dough, sans yeast, and after resting for 90 minutes it was silky smooth and handled like a dream. Following the hostesses’ advice, I made a double batch, and it’s a good thing I did: My first attempt wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. I crumpled it up and started again, and I did much better the second time. There were a few holes, but it didn’t matter.

Then I brushed the dough with butter and added #2 Son’s filling (in the size and shape called for in the recipe), then rolled it up. It was so cool — it worked exactly as it was supposed to! That so rarely happens in my kitchen (or, in this case, in my dining room). The dough didn’t stick to the tablecloth even a little. Brushed it with butter again.

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Baked it for a bit longer than the recipe said, about 35 minutes. Did not wait the specified 30 minutes before cutting, because after all, that was for apple filling. Should have waited a bit longer. Very hot.

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But once we could get it into our waiting maws, it was worth the wait. It was essentially shepherd’s pie in a flaky, flaky crust, but that description doesn’t do it justice. I don’t write well enough to do it justice. Even my usually reliable husband is at a loss for words. But it was really good.

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#2 Son: I found my filling quite good. You couldn’t really taste the lamb or the onion over the potato [editor’s note: I didn’t notice that], but the potato was delicious. I think the crust was really good.

Update: Husband ate the leftovers two days later, cold. He called it shepherd’s strudel, and he was pleased.

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And then I had that sad crumpled ball of dough, and I couldn’t just throw it away. That would have been wrong. So I rolled it out again; I couldn’t get it nearly as big as the other half. I think it wound up about 12 inches by 18 inches. I brushed it with butter, sprinkled it with a mixture of ground almonds, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon, and filled it with chopped milk chocolate and toasted slivered almonds.

That one didn’t come out as pretty, and the crust was much tougher. Guess you can’t roll the dough more than once. But the chocolate was all melty and good. Really, it reminded us all of those lovely rugelach we made last fall. No one minded eating the strudel, tough crust or no.

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Check out what all the other Daring Bakers did with the strudel — there are sure to be some amazing variations. And if you want to try it yourself (go ahead — it’s easier than you think!), here’s the recipe:

Apple Strudel
from Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers

Preparation time: 2 hours 15 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
â…“ cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
½ cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1½ cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
½ cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough

1â…“ cups (200 g) unbleached flour
â…› teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
½ teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary. Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tips

  • The ingredients are cheap, so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough. That way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn’t come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try.
  • The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster.
  • Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short sleeves.
  • To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table.
  • A few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.
Categories
baking boys bread Dorie fruit recipes

Tuesdays With Dorie: Fresh Mango Bread

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I’m a sucker for quick breads, as long as they’re good; I’ve certainly had more than my share of dry, tasteless banana bread. But this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, chosen from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Kelly of Baking with the Boys, is not dry and tasteless, not by a long shot.

Y’all know I’m not a fan of fruit (nor am I Southern!), so I diced the mango up pretty small. I didn’t want big chunks of fruit messing up my quick bread. (And it took forever, let me tell you.) I got the required 2 cups out of one mango, so either my mango was larger than most or my dice was smaller.

Being so anti-fruit, I tweaked the recipe a bit: Dorie mentions that the original version had nuts in it, and that sounded good to me. I found some dry-roasted macadamias in the fridge, a bit more than a cup, so I chopped those up and threw them in there. I also used nutmeg rather than ginger, in deference to Husband’s lack of love for the latter, and left out the lime, in deference to mine.

Other than that, it was all Dorie.

Oh, except for the King Arthur white whole-wheat flour I used in place of the all-purpose.

So after the forever it took me to cut up the mango, the batter came together quickly. It was, as the recipe cautioned, really thick, not at all like most quick breads. I baked it for about an hour and 20 minutes, and the outside is just a bit overdone — not terribly, and it doesn’t affect the taste.

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I was going to save it for breakfast, as per Dorie’s recommendation that it’s better the second day, but we had a friend here helping Husband put up some shelves, and I didn’t cook an actual dinner, so I figured we could at least have the mango bread. It was still a bit warm inside when we cut it.

And it was good.

It was moist and flavorful, although I can’t say that I tasted a whole lot of mango flavor. But from my point of view, of course, that’s a good thing. I ate my slice plain, and it was delicious.

Husband: It was really good — I enjoyed it. There was just enough fruitiness and sweetness to mark it as a quick bread, but the nutmeg really made it almost a piece of a meal. Somewhat strangely, it meshed well with the Can Blau 2007 I was drinking.

#1 Son: I really liked it. The fruit was good, the nuts were perfect, and the crust had this crunchy sweetness I can only compare to the top of a blondie. It would have been better with ginger, though — damn my father’s constrained palate.

#2 Son: I liked it. It was a little crumbly, but the macadamia nuts were very good, the crust was crunchy and good, and the entire thing was good. I don’t think I’ve ever not liked something of Dorie’s [editor’s note: or anything at all, really].

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We managed to save more than half the loaf for breakfast the next day, when it was still delicious. It was less crumbly, but the flavor was the same. Good.

Oh, and I’m supposed to tell you that it’s excellent with cream cheese and fruit compote, which #2 Son made by pouring a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen mixed berries into a pot with 2 tablespoons of honey, then cooking on low till the berries were soft. Then he mashed them with a potato masher and cranked up the heat to medium to cook off some moisture.

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So really, you should give this one a try. It’s yummy. And if you ignore the sugar and oil, you can persuade yourself that it’s healthy! Kelly will have the recipe at Baking with the Boys (or you could buy the book!), and the hundreds of other TWD bakers will all have their own little tweaks on it. Bon appetit!